Just over a decade since becoming runner up in ITV’s Pop Idol Will Young is donning leather hotpants and thrusting his way into Manchester to star in Cabaret at the Opera House.
Direct from his Olivier Award nominated performance as Emcee, Young reprises the role in Rufus Norris’ acclaimed production of the Kander and Ebb musical as part of its UK tour.
Set in the backdrop of 1931 Berlin, as the Nazis are rising to power, the show follows English cabaret performer Sally Bowles and the relationship she forms with bisexual American writer Cliff Bradshaw.
Most of the action takes place in the seedy and infamous Kit Kat Club where anything goes and Will Young holds court as the wickedly camp and dark Master of Ceremonies.
Will’s fan-base has come out in their droves to show their support for the star with a full house and cheers erupting from the moment his head popped out of the O in the opening song Willkommen.
“Every night we battle to keep the girls taking off all their clothing. So, don’t go away. Tonight we may lose that battle!” – Emcee
This production of Cabaret moves from a light and comedic first half, full of the frivolity of ‘30s Berlin, to a sinister second half; pre empted by a powerful marionette number at the end of Act 1 where the ensemble become puppets manipulated by a manically wild Young dressed as Hitler.
Will’s fan-base has come out in their droves to show their support for the star with a full house and cheers erupting from the moment his head popped out of the O in the opening song Willkommen. Even those who had just come along to enjoy some of the most iconic songs in musical theatre such as Money Makes the World Go Round, and Maybe This Time couldn’t help being mesmerized by Young who truly steals every scene he’s in.
Taking on Sally Bowles, the role that made Minnelli famous in the 1972 film, is another student from the ‘reality TV show school’ Siobhan Dillon. Finalist in BBC 1’s How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria’ Dillon showed a performance that was more ‘saint than sinner’ in her portrayal of showgirl Sally Bowles.
Dillon failed to convince as the manipulative and fame obsessed Bowles; her beautifully pure vocals left me aching for them to be gritty and desperate. There’s no doubt Siobhan is a great talent and an amazing singer but unfortunately this is not a role that sits comfortably with her.
A nod goes to the Ensemble who sizzled with energy as the Kit Kat Club performers amusing the audience with their tongue in cheek sauciness and yes…nudity (a warning to cover your Nans’ eyes)!
Leading the sub-story was former Blood Brothers star Lyn Paul as Fraulein Schneider. The Liverpudlian born actress couldn’t quite disguise her Scouse accent despite playing a landlady who had never stepped foot out of Berlin. That aside she delivered a sensitive performance providing some tender moments with her ‘suitor’ Herr Schultz played by Linus Hart.
There may have been the odd whisper at the interval that this was ‘The Will Young Show’ but in its defence that is what makes it a success. Young is clearly in his element here and loving every minute of his stint onstage just as much as the audience enjoy watching him. As the show received its second encore Will left with a skip and a smile knowing that this was yet another smash to add to his long list!
Manchester Opera House, Quay Street, Manchester
Monday 9 to Saturday 14 Sept
Box Office: 0844 871 3018